The Group Manager for the General Services Administration’s (GSA) Federal Systems Integration and Management Center (FEDSIM) said on Wednesday that the Office of Assisted Acquisition Services will offer a government-wide contract vehicle for small business technologies.

Alexandra Rouse said at SAIC’s OutFront event in Arlington, Va., on Jan. 25 that FEDSIM is “making strides” on a Small Business Innovation and Research (SBIR) contract, and that organizations can expect to see a draft of the vehicle in late March.

“They are making strides with offering a draft of a contract that should be coming out later in the Spring,” Rouse said. “Hopefully late March for a draft.”

She continued, adding, “We’re also building the foundation for the program office now as we speak.”

Currently, the SBIR program has three phases: the first phase focuses on developing a proof-of-concept; phase two continues the research-and-development efforts to prove that the technology is commercially viable; phase three is where technologies go to commercialization.

However, while the SBIR program is often hailed as a success, too many technologies fail to advance beyond phase two of the program.

Phases one and two are funded by the SBIR program, but the third phase is a challenge because it requires an agency to fund further development work to get that technology or solution into production.

This is what agencies often call “the valley of death” – that seemingly uncrossable chasm between early prototyping of a new technology and getting it into the hands of government users.

“To get to the state-of-the-art technology … more traditional acquisition methods may take longer, so the innovation becomes irrelevant or saturated and it doesn’t address the primary need of some of our client agencies,” Rouse said.

The group manager said GSA wants to use this new SBIR contract vehicle as a bridge over this valley of death.

Rouse reassured the audience that the contract vehicle is moving forward, and FEDSIM is making strides with market research, but they have not yet seen formal approval.

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Cate Burgan
Cate Burgan
Cate Burgan is a MeriTalk Senior Technology Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.